As a product marketer who had to learn from my own mistakes how to lead Go-to-Market plans for new products at scale, I’m super excited to share some tips and tricks that could help others with a similar project.
This article is most relevant for global or regional B2C or B2B product marketers tasked with launching a new product across multiple markets and languages, whether it's a new app, feature, service, or anything else.
Based on my experience of launching new products usually across >40 countries, I'll highlight the most important things to consider (rather than describing the overall process for a new product launch as already done in another article) and provide tips and tricks for product marketers.
So, let’s dive in!
Before anything else, define your priority markets
Prioritization is key for managing a complex launch across multiple markets and languages, with most likely limited human resources and budgets (as often happens). That is why it's important to define priority markets at the very start and build the Go-to-Market plan accordingly.
Priority markets in the context of GTM planning mean that you are ready to go big there - for example, launch a local campaign with a media budget behind it.
While for other markets, a baseline layer of activities might be enough - for example, product localization and a set of basic marketing assets. A list of countries in each “bucket” (priority/other markets) and specific GTM activities for each group should be clearly defined and communicated internally.
I can’t stress enough the importance of aligning the market prioritization with key internal stakeholders. This step can literally be a lifesaver for product marketers later in the process - a framework you can always refer to when saying “no” to some additional activities for non-priority markets, for example.
Also, let’s be honest - although leading GTM across many markets and languages is incredibly hard and requires great product marketing skills, simply launching at scale won’t be recognized internally in most companies.
In addition to “just” bringing a new product to market, it must be a success and show the product marketer’s contributions to the product management team and other internal functions.
Defining priority markets and doubling down your focus on them (for example, by scoping hyper-local GTM activities there) is a chance for the product marketer to shine.
Try to distribute country launches on time
Can some markets be delayed? Does the launch need to happen across all geographies at the same time, or some countries can follow later?
Although launching at the same time might seem like the best GTM strategy at first, we're inevitably faced with internal limitations of engineering, product management, sales, and product marketing resources.
The fewer markets we launch at the same moment in time, the more attention each country is receiving from internal teams and the higher quality the launch will be.
Of course, there are often internal scalable processes in place to enable launching all at the same time, however, from my experience, mistakes are still possible. Unless it is an absolute necessity to launch all at once, it is better to develop a launch schedule with the countries distributed in time.
Following up on the schedule topic, it is hard to underestimate the importance of alignment on this matter between internal teams. For example, product managers should know all about planned GTM activities, while product marketers must be aware of any last-minute changes in the product launch schedule.
Test the product locally
This tip might sound obvious, however, product localization is still one of the top issues for any international launch. From my experience, even high-quality, professional translations might end up looking out of place inside the product UI, or sound too complicated for users to understand.
The ideal scenario is to have a local product marketer validate the translations in the product itself and across all marketing assets. However, local product marketing support is not always available, and in this case, I try finding local language speakers across other internal teams.
You would be surprised to know how many folks from other functions (in the absence of a local product marketer), such as Sales or others, are excited to test a new product in their local language! Try engaging ex-pats across the company.
Come up with a scalable model for assets adaptation
It's a no-brainer that marketing assets should be relevant for the local audience, the more the better. “Local relevance” has truly become a buzzword in the product marketing world, and a simple asset localization (= translation) is not enough anymore.
However, when you’re working on a scaled launch with limited resources, you can’t afford to go deep in asset adaption and produce unique launch materials for every local market.
I found that the easiest solution is to develop a scalable model for asset adaption. For example, maybe some materials are easier to produce, so it's possible to add a local flavor to them and then prioritize them for promotion.
Here is one of the examples of when market prioritization comes into play! One solution could be putting most of the resources behind creating truly local materials for priority markets and sticking to a basic localization for other countries.
Don't underestimate unpaid channels for your Go-To-Market
In this final section, I'd like to highlight the importance of owned (i.e. unpaid) channels in the context of scaled launches. Most likely, you won’t have a large marketing budget to launch big campaigns in each of >40 countries, and that is why it is important to consider all unpaid channels that you can possibly use.
For example, are there any cross-sell opportunities across other products to drive awareness about the new launch? Is it possible to launch in-product messages to drive adoption? I'd recommend getting creative (and scrappy) for the GTM planning and considering all possible options.
Partnerships with local brands could be an interesting opportunity - they are usually excited to partner with international brands, or with new, innovative products. These kinds of partnerships often do not require any budget from your side.
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